More improvements under way at park

A trail is being cleared as part of ongoing improvements at Riverbend Park in Beacon Falls. The improvements will also include a water break in the Naugatuck River, plantings, signage and benches. –LUKE MARSHALL

A trail is being cleared as part of ongoing improvements at Riverbend Park in Beacon Falls. The improvements will also include a water break in the Naugatuck River, plantings, signage and benches. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — Officials expect to unveil a bigger and better Riverbend Park next spring.

The town has been working toward improving the park, which is located on Nancy Avenue along the Naugatuck River, for the past couple of years. As part of the effort to improve the park, the town has acquired several neighboring properties, including 17 and 19 Nancy Ave., two state properties totaling 0.22 acres, and a nearly half-acre property at the corner of Nancy Avenue and Hubbell Avenue, to expand it. The park originally consisted of less than 1.5 acres of land that was given to the town by O&G Industries.

The Riverbend Park Subcommittee, which is overseeing the project, last month awarded a $49,820 contract to E.J. Smith Builders to make improvements at the park, according to meeting minutes.

The town received a $100,000 federal grant to make improvements at the park and recently transferred an additional $19,900 for the project.

E.J. Smith Builders was one of three Beacon Falls-based contractors to submit bids for the work. The sub-committee unanimously awarded to contract to E.J. Smith Builders, according to the minutes.

The work, which is under way, E.J. Smith Builders will do includes building a water break in the river to allow kayakers and canoers a safer place to get out of the water during high flow, sub-committee member Rich Minnick said. The water break will also give inexperienced people a safer place to wade into the river to fish, he added.

Minnick said the work also entails creating a figure-eight path about a mile long that will lead out of the park. Town officials are hoping to extend the streetscape downtown from where it currently ends at the intersection of South Main Street and Bethany Road to the park. The plan is the streetscape will connect with the path in the park.

As E.J. Smith Builders does its work, Minnick added that resident Stephen Knapik, vice chairman of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, is volunteering to help and operate machinery. Knapik has volunteered on several projects in the past, Minnick said.

The current work is expected to take about two months, Minnick said. The next phase of the project will include amenities for the park, including low-intensity lighting, plantings, signage and benches.

“We’re trying to leave as much as we can in its natural state,” Minnick said.

Minnick said the hope is everything will be done for a grand opening next spring.